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The conflation of everything and the decline of intelligent conversation

The conflation of everything and the decline of intelligent conversation

The definitive list

I didn’t get involved in the Lineker wars, mainly because I had other stuff on, but the affair triggered a little moment of realisation in me. That is: how conflation is used as a political weapon.

It probably always was, but today, in all this political and philosophical division, conflation seems to be everywhere.

The Great Conflation


the act or process of merging two or more separate sets of information, texts, ideas etc into one whole

AI generated image via Midjourney from the prompt, “conflation”.

The intention, with deliberate conflation, is often dishonest, usually to confuse. It’s a technique frequently used by lawyers in courts.

Often the conflation arises from actual confusion, however.

In the Lineker wars, Team Gary conflated the issue of free speech with that of impartiality. Yes, there is crossover in the Venn diagram. There always is, otherwise the conflation does not work.

Gary should be able to say what he likes. Free speech! Well, yes, but not if you are a BBC presenter, runs the other side of the argument. Presenters should be impartial. Many are, but so many are not it is no wonder people think the BBC is not impartial, but biased. 

The issue that Lineker was arguing about has also been conflated.

Legal migrants, asylum seekers and refugees should be distinguished from illegal migrants and people trafficking, but the two have been conflated. Because of that conflation, it has become impossible to have a sensible conversation about immigration without emotions getting in the way and wild accusations of racism and all the rest of it being thrown about. (Racism itself is forever being conflated with other things to the point that now anything non-positive said about a person of colour can be construed as racist. Indeed now even positive things are being called out for being racist).

My plan in this article was to call out other areas of conflation, because once you see conflation, it’s very hard to un-see. The more people that see it, therefore, the better the chance of some kind of truth returning to public discourse.

I was planning to highlight a few areas of conflation, followed by a short discussion of each. But it turns out there are so many, to discuss each one would be exhausting both for reader and writer. So, instead, I’ve put together this list.


(Perhaps in future articles, I’ll come back and discuss individual conflations in more detail).

List of common conflations

  1. Elections and democracy

  2. Free speech and impartiality

  3. Legal and illegal migration

  4. The law and fascism

  5. Justice and equality

  6. Speech and violence

  7. Journalism and activism

  8. Opinions and facts

  9. Statistics and truth

  10. Europe and the EU

  11. The state and society

  12. Free markets and capitalism

  13. Education and indoctrination

  14. Free speech and hate speech

  15. Morality and religion

  16. Patriotism and nationalism

  17. Brexit and take your pick

  18. Equality of opportunity and equality of outcome

  19. Cultural appropriation and cultural appreciation

  20. Rights and privileges

  21. Diversity and tokenism

  22. Diversity and skin colour

  23. Inflation and the price of the goods and services measured by CPI

  24. Criticism and cancel culture

  25. Science and pseudoscience

  26. Debt and productivity

  27. Clean energy and environmental sustainability

  28. Climate change and environmentalism

  29. Money and credit

  30. Deposit and loan

  31. Investment and spending

  32. Skin colour and culture

  33. Islam and terrorism

  34. Fluctuations in the weather and man-made climate change

  35. Price and value

  36. Diversity quotas and equal opportunities

  37. Morality and obedience

  38. Aspergers and classic autism

  39. Equity and equality of outcome

  40. Diversity and conformism

  41. Social justice and left-wing activism

  42. Morality and leftist/progressive ideology

  43. The NHS and quality healthcare for all

  44. Income and wealth

  45. Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade

  46. Anarchy and chaos

  47. Conservatism and right-wing ideology

  48. Western representative democracy and true democracy

  49. Two political parties and choice

  50. Abortion and euthanasia

  51. Wokism and caring about people

  52. Beauty and truth (an ancient conflation)

  53. The state and God

  54. Conservatism and the Conservative Party

  55. Classical Liberalism and the Liberal Party

  56. Anything I don’t like and fascism

In fact, there are so many in politics, I think I should stop there. (Lots of other good ones have been suggested in the comments).


These are some of the many examples of things that have been conflated, leading to misunderstanding and misinterpretation galore. It's important to understand the nuances and differences between these concepts if you are to have informed and productive conversations about them.

I’m normally a proponent of the never-explain-as-conspiracy-that-which-can-be-explained-by-incompetence school of thought, but I am coming round to the view that a lot of this conflation is deliberate. I once saw a presentation by Professor Tim Evans which outlined the methods employed by Marxists to seize power. The goal of the Marxist, he argued, is to create chaos, then, from that chaos, secure power. Conflation leads to intellectual chaos.

There are, however, also the stupid, the not-so-well informed and the confused, and plenty of them, who know no better.

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AI generated image from the prompt “conflation”
AI generated image via Midjourney from the prompt, “conflation”.


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